Packing, unpacking and moving to a new home can be an enormous undertaking, but with some careful planning and organization, the process can be a bit less stressful for your clients. Here’s how you can advise them.

You’ve worked diligently to find the best apartment for your buyers in the ideal price range and in the neighborhood they prefer. The contract is signed, and both you and the buyers are excited about their new home and the possibilities it will provide.

As a full-service broker, the ability to offer guidelines on packing and storage is the last tip you can give your buyers — and a way to ensure they will remember you. So, here’s some helpful advice you can offer.

1. Getting organized for a move

Packing to move depends on the distance, the type of items you’re looking to move, and if the move is directly from one location to the final destination. Moving services that are ecologically minded may supply reusable plastic or heavy-duty fiberboard containers, making sure to sanitize them after each use.

If your clients are moving a short distance, with pickup and delivery on the same day, the packing will be easier than a cross-country or international move over a span of days or weeks.

However, whether your clients are moving a short or long distance, organization is key. Packing similar items together, organizing and labeling by room, and marking boxes as “fragile” or “heavy” will prevent confusion and damage.

When moving a short distance, clients may opt to leave clothing and unbreakable items in drawers, rather than empty them. Movers will carefully shrink wrap and protect your furniture with moving blankets. Larger pieces can be disassembled or dismantled to ease transfer.

An important but obvious tip to suggest to your buyers is that they take a picture before it’s taken apart to inform the reassembly. Collecting any hardware in bags, labeling it and carefully tying it to one leg (or putting it inside a drawer) will prevent confusion at the destination.

Legs of tables, chairs and dressers can be protected from scratches and scrapes by wrapping them in towels or pieces of old blankets, and then finishing by pulling an old sock onto each leg and wrapping it with tape.

2. Moving into a storage unit

When a buyer has to move into a storage facility, either partially or entirely, due to closing not happening conveniently or due to renovations at a new address, packing for storage is required. The enemies of storage units are moisture, dirt, insects and vermin. Clearly, food of any kind cannot be stored, or it will attract an infestation. Moisture leads to mildew, damage and odors.

With a little thought and foresight, these destructive forces can be prevented. Boxes and packing containers should be inspected for bugs and sprayed with bug spray prior to filling. Specialized traps for small bugs can be packed in with the contents of any box.

Chalk absorbs moisture and can be added to any box of books or linens to capture moisture. Sealing boxes with plastic or putting contents in a plastic bag before putting them into a box will keep moisture at bay. Baking soda is always the best at killing odors and can be used in a box with books or linens. 

Organizing the storage unit with heavy items on the bottom and lighter items on top will prevent damage and crushing your clients’ things. If your clients are storing rugs, advise them to clean them first, as crumbs or spills may attract an infestation of bugs. Mothballs and baking soda can be put in with the rug to prevent any possible damage. Then, seal the rug in paper and plastic.

Mattresses and box springs can be stored in heavy plastic bags to prevent dust or tears. Seal the bags carefully with tape after labeling which room they belong in.

Labeling boxes on more than one side will prevent the need to turn them around to find out what is inside. A simple way to label is to code contents by color. If each room is assigned a color, and there’s a master color key chart, distributing boxes at the destination will become a simpler process. 

If your clients follow this method, it’s important for them to share the color key chart with the crews who are unloading the trucks. A designated captain or project manager can direct the distribution.

Insurance is often offered with a storage facility contract. It’s wise to inquire if your clients’ homeowner’s policy will cover items in storage to prevent double expenses.

3. Packing fragile items to move

Glassware and dishes can be damaged in transit, so be cautious when packing them. One way your clients can do it: Begin with a sturdy box, and line it with bubble wrap, crumpled paper, or towels and blankets.

Plates are best packed standing on the edge, as opposed to stacked, and cups should have each handle carefully padded, as they are attached to the bowl of the cup and can easily break off in transit. Crystal and stemware must also be wrapped and padded to prevent jostling each other in a box. It’s always wise to have too much padding and too many boxes — rather than too little or too few.

Artwork and mirrors are best left to professionals for crating. Chandeliers are another packing challenge that can be delegated to specialized service professionals.

If your clients are moving a short distance in a mild climate, plants can be transported in boxes that have some holes for air. Wrapping the pot of soil carefully to prevent spilling and adding a small amount of moisture before will keep them alive.

A stake or two for tall plants to keep stems from breaking also helps prevent damage. Remember, plants are living things that rely on sunlight, so unpack them as soon as possible to prevent drooping, yellowing leaves.

Electronics are another precious category that require special care when moving. Photographing connectors, labeling wires and keeping all parts together in bags or envelopes will prevent frustration at the destination. Your clients may want to consider a professional service or installer to reassemble their electronics if they must be up and running quickly upon arrival.

Children and the elderly or infirm find moving particularly challenging. Encourage your clients to pack familiar items that can reassure them when they arrive at their new home carefully. This will prevent disorientation or unnecessary fear.

With careful planning, organization and care, packing and unpacking can be made to be less of an ordeal. Being prepared can ensure an orderly arrival at your buyer’s new home. Your clients will appreciate any guidance you provide them as they move into the next part of their lives. What’s more, they’ll remember you as a full-service broker.

Gerard Splendore is a licensed associate real estate broker with Warburg Realty in New York. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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